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Leaders Respond to News of Local Plan Submission

Leaders of the political parties at Millmead, and other local organisations that have spoken out on the subject of the Local Plan, were asked for their comments in response to the announcement from Guildford Borough Council (GBC) that it intends to submit the plan to the Planning Inspectorate in December. This is what they said...

Caroline Reeves, leader of the Lib Dem group at GBC:

“Now the final draft of the Local Plan has been published Liberal Democrat councillors are considering the implications. We must balance the very diverse needs across the whole borough, and we know that this is not an easy task. We will publish a fuller response once we have completed our discussions.”

Susan Parker, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group:

“I am shocked that the Local plan will be put forward to the inspector without any major changes.

“There were 9,000 valid comments last summer. These were detailed points on the plan; almost all were ignored.  Previously there were 32,000 comments on the core plan, which are still unanswered. People have taken the time to respond, and they have been ignored.

“In this borough, public opinion is ignored as a matter of policy.

“We know the public want to protect our countryside.   We are worried about the inadequacy of our infrastructure and our poor air quality. There’s a huge increase in the numbers of proposed homes, largely in rural areas. Our countryside is under threat.  Conservative promises to protect the green belt were worth nothing.  The A3 corridor is being urbanised from the M25 to Aldershot.”

Brian Creese, spokesperson Guildford Labour Party:

Guildford Labour Party are glad that the Local Plan is nearing submission. After many years, large amounts of money and countless hours spent by GBC officers, it is time we progressed. There is precious little vision in this Local Plan, little imagination and little to enthuse about; The plan is almost universally disliked and derided. A rare feat.

The fact is we need housing now. Specifically more social housing, more housing available at affordable rents and more housing cheap enough to allow young people to get on the housing ladder. This has now become the overarching priority. This is not a good Local Plan but it is the best this administration has to offer. Let’s accept its limitations and progress. Until this administration changes, nothing better will be produced.

Julian Lyon, chairman of the Guildford Society:

“This Local Plan process has been going on for a long time and we know from the Solum Planning Enquiry how difficult it is for the council to defend the town and borough against undesirable or poor development.

“We want to see a good Local Plan in place as soon as practicably possible and, given there are no major amendments to the submission draft, we can direct your readers to the extensive responses we have already made.

“We look forward to explaining our position to the Planning Inspector at the Examination in Public.”

John Rigg, chairman of Guildford Vision Group

“GVG, while acknowledging the logistical challenge facing the Council of producing the Local Plan, is not convinced the Plan has changed significantly enough in the light of the volume and thrust of all the comment received over the various consultations. It’s also not convinced the Plan is ambitious enough for our town, the regional hub and generator of a very significant amount of the Borough’s wealth creation as measured by Gross Value Added.

“Unlike GVG’s carefully crafted masterplan, launched to much public acclaim and support in February this year, the Council’s Local Plan does not include a masterplan for the town centre, and fails to tackle serious issues like pedestrian safety, both in respect of traffic accidents and pollution. It certainly does nothing to reinvigorate the centre and leaves it vulnerable to opportunistic development. The latter is bound to come forward as we fear the Council’s approach to new housing is very much at risk of challenge. That has been laid bare starkly at the SOLUM Appeal currently underway.

“Many fear the Plan will be judged unsound. If so, Guildfordians should fear the consequences if the Examination can’t also help in significant improvement.”

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One Response to Leaders Respond to News of Local Plan Submission

  1. Howard Smith Reply

    November 10, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    In its response to the Local Plan, Guildford Labour Party expressed a concern that it lacked sufficient provision for small businesses, retail and other, in the town centre. In our view, while it may be the big stores that get people to visit, it is the small ones that get people to come back.

    As someone who recently ran a small retail business in the town centre (a shop in Chapel Street), I can say from experience that it is a struggle for all small businesses to survive, with sky-high rents, business rates, fees to credit card companies, etc. Small business owners work extremely hard to keep afloat and they need our full encouragement if we are to have a varied and vibrant retail sector in a town that caters for everyone in our community.

    It would be heartening if a significant part of the vacant North Street area was specifically allocated to provide attractively designed retail space, made available at reasonable rents for smaller local businesses. In this way, independent shops and cafes can thrive and the town regains its individuality and attractiveness. Additional help for existing town centre small businesses would not go amiss either.

    Howard Smith is the Guildford Labour Party Parliamentary Spokesperson

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